The 61st Annual Grammy Awards is approaching quickly, which means you only have a few days left to place your bets on who will walk away with the coveted, golden trophies. While all the nominees are applauded for being considered the best in music, the category that viewers anxiously await to hear until the final moments of the broadcast is undoubtedly which of the Grammy Album of the Year nominees will walk away with the final trophy of the night.
As always, it's a tough call. The noms were selected from a wide range of genres with Kacey Musgraves, Drake, Cardi B, Janelle Monáe, Brandi Carlile, H.E.R., Post Malone, and various artists included on the Black Panther soundtrack duking it out. But as the big moment approaches, there's only one real way to prepare: listen to the 2019 Album of the Year nominees in one go, ahead of the Grammys.
But you can't just jump in anywhere so below is a recommended order to listen to the records (and handy info, like where you can stream them). Despite the multiple genres, these albums have overlapping themes and sounds. This list will help your ears easily transition from one genre to the next, from sweet country melodies to the catchy rap beats.
1. Golden Hour by Kacey Musgraves
Begin your musical journey with Musgraves’ country album Golden Hour. The soft, country melodies and heartfelt lyrics make this record a great start to this list. Lead singles “Butterflies” and “Space Cowboy” will put you in a more relaxed and reflective mood compared to her fellow Album of the Year Nominees.
2. By The Way, I Forgive You by Brandi Carlile
Smoothly transition from country into Carlile’s critically acclaimed sixth album, By The Way, I Forgive You. The Americana and folk sounds make this record the obvious follow up to Musgraves’s Golden Hour. The mainstream audience might be somewhat unfamiliar with Carlile’s music, but she certainly makes an impact upon first listen. Even former President Barack Obama named “The Joke,” the album’s lead single, one of his favorite songs of 2017.
3. H.E.R. by H.E.R.
H.E.R. landed herself five Grammy nominations, including Best New Artist, with her self-titled debut album. H.E.R., born Gabi Wilson, released a R&B record that is a compilation her past EPs. Although her album falls under a completely different genre than Carlile’s record, the slower tempo songs like “Lights On,” “Focus” and “Best Part” featuring Daniel Caesar will allow your ears to effortless adjust to H.E.R.’s soulful tracks.
4. Dirty Computer by Janelle Monáe
After fans anxiously awaited five long years for Janelle Monáe’s return to music, she exceeded expectations with her third album Dirty Computer. Monáe revealed in an interview with BBC Radio 1 that Prince was working on her album before he passed which explains how her album has a classic sound while still feeling current. The R&B, funk, hip hop, and neo soul influences on Dirty Computer perfectly places it in the middle of this list.
5. Beerbongs & Bentleys by Post Malone
Post Malone’s sophomore album with pop and hip hop influences is up next! Post Malone’s voice sounds more pop compared to the other rappers on this list. But, his multiple collaborations on the album with artists like 21 Savage and Nicki Minaj makes Beerbongs & Bentleys a great segue between Monáe R&B stylinging to the more hip hop heavy albums that follow. Plus, Post Malone’s breakout hit like “Rockstar” along with equally popular single “Psycho” place him on the mainstream side of this list.
6. Scorpion by Drake
We continue with more popular, radio-friendly tracks which of course means Drake’s Scorpion is next on this list. You would have had to make an effort to not hear one of the songs off of this hip hop album considering it has a total of 25 tracks! While the A Side of Scorpion has some slower songs like “God’s Plan” that have a similar vibe to Post Malone’s music, the B Side includes singles like “In My Feelings” which transitions to more uptempo, pop songs. You will probably be tempted to do the “In My Feelings Challenge” while you listen.
7. Invasion Of Privacy by Cardi B
Now it’s time for some more fun! Blast Cardi B’s debut album as loud as you can because chances are you have a favorite track off of Invasion of Privacy. The hip hop record with Latin influences dominated radio waves with hits like “Bodak Yellow” and “I Like It.” This album will definitely put you in a upbeat mood, like Drake’s record, as you dance around and (attempt to) rap along.
8. Black Panther: The Album, Music From And Inspired By by Various Artists
The perfect way to end your streaming spree is with the soundtrack to one of 2018’s biggest films, Black Panther. With artists like Kendrick Lamar, SZA, Khalid, and Best New Artist nominee Jorja Smith contributing to a track or two on this record, this album is a true reflection of the connection between hip hop and pop music today. The record balances dance-worthy tracks with important themes reflected in the film. Not only will you be in a good mood after listening to this album, but you will also be fully prepared to make your prediction for the Album of the Year winner.